Aldermen call for financial reports
Monthly income and expense reports were demanded last week by several aldermen in the wake of concerns over audits left undone for half a decade.
A monthly financial report showing, for example, expenses, where the city stands on its debt and where each department is on its budgeted spending was mentioned.
“How much do we have in the bank?” Ward 2 Alderman Jim Fulton asked. “How much have we spent during the month? How much are our CDs are worth? What do we owe? And at what percentage has each department spent of their budget?”
Newly-elected Ward 1 Alderman Justin Clearman also demanded answers.
“I would think we should already be getting this,” Clearman said.
He plans to file a motion to freeze non-essential spending when the mayor and board meet next Tuesday night.
Clearman made the motion to freeze spending at last Tuesday’s meeting but no action was taken.
The city had not received a financial audit since Fiscal 2016 as budgeting began for the new year that started Oct 1. The Fiscal 2017 audit was made public Oct. 1.
The board hired the Pearl accounting firm of Windham and Lacy last month to catch the city up on audits. The city had failed to sign a standard letter of engagement and provide basic documents, a previous firm said when they withdrew last month after The Neshoba Democrat asked for the most recent audit during a public meeting.
“I’m one vote but I feel until we get our audit together, we need to freeze any unnecessary spending,” Clearman said. “Until we know what we have, I don’t feel we should spend money on anything but the essentials.”
Aldermen are putting together a list of what non-essentials would be. They will seek input from the city’s department heads at Tuesday’s meeting.
Clearman said he is looking forward to meeting with the new auditors Tuesday and hearing their plan of action.
“The audit is the No. 1 thing for me,” Clearman said. “I think we are being a little nonchalant about this audit. That is my feeling. I don’t want to keep doing the audit without meeting them and seeing what their game plan is. We need to know.”
Earlier in the meeting, Clearman voted not to approve the claims docket.
City Clerk Nikki Walton was not present because of illness, and Clearman could not get an answer about one of the expenses to his satisfaction. He indicated he may not be voting to approve future claims dockets until the city is caught up on its audits.
One expense all agreed that was essential was the purchase of MSWIN radio systems for the police and fire departments.
Fire Chief Pierce Clark said his department was down to one radio channel and they “were one lightning strike away from having to make an emergency purchase.”
The vote was 5-0 to purchase the PPD radio system for $90,000 and the PFD system for $130,000.